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Avoid Gift Card Scams This Holiday Season

Updated November 2022

The holiday season is quickly approaching which means our inboxes and mailboxes are inundated with holiday deals and coupons. According to a recent survey by the National Retail Federation, 41% of consumers plan to start their holiday shopping in November. While some love finding gifts for friends and family, many don’t so they turn to giving gift cards. Lucky for those consumers, the NRF survey also found that gift cards are one of the most popular holiday gifts. Although these are quick & easy gifts to give, they’re also easy ones to steal. Scammers love gift cards because there are plenty ways to steal funds. They use tactics like exposed PINs, fake activation stickers, and gift card exchange sites to steal gift card funds. 

DON’T buy gift cards with exposed/scratched PINs. Scammers go to a store, scratch off the PIN, write it down, and drain the money once it’s activated by a legitimate purchaser.

DO check the activation sticker. Scammers overlay their sticker on the activation, which links to their own site.

DON’T Make phone payments to someone asking for gift card payments. For example, someone may call claiming to work for the IRS, cellular company, or tech support asking you to be a bill with gift card funds. According to a Federal Trade Commission report, 38,401 cases of gift card/reload card fraud were reported.

DO use password protection if you’re sending an online gift card.This requires the receiver to enter a password to gain access to the gift card information.

DO keep the gift card receipts. This provides proof of the gift card amount and activation.

DO Sometimes, you end up with gift cards that may not suit your tastes. One way to sell or exchange these cards is through an exchange website. Be sure the exchange or reselling site you use will guarantee money back if you’re scammed. Some exchange sites will allow people to send the gift card code and be paid before the site receives the physical card in the mail. Once the balance is confirmed, scammers will spend the gift card balance before the buyer receives the card or code. Raise.com is one site that has a money-back guarantee. 

Make sure to read and share these tips with friends and family ahead of Black Friday & Cyber Monday! Happy shopping!

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